Saturday, June 20, 2009

(The Frugal) Celiac Road Trip

Well, it's that time of year! Off to the Beach, the Mountains, or wherever for vacation fun!

I had a brief overnight at the Outer Banks (NC) this weekend, and I will fill you here in on the details of my gluten free eating while on this trip.

There is an essential item for every Celiac for any road trip, however brief. I can't think of anything more useful or more helpful.

Do you know what it is?

It's a COOLER!

Are you the type of person that hates to worry about tomorrow, hates to make food ahead, or loves to eat out?

Well, I want to encourage you to reinvent the way you think about food while traveling.


Almost everywhere I go for more than a day, I take a cooler. I even take a cooler on many day trips, with lunches and/or dinners. This not only ensures that you can know with 100% certainty that your food is safe to eat, but also saves you money by preventing you from buying food and beverage!

And it's not like it takes up that much room in the car.


What's in Emily's cooler?

You might be thinking: If it's a bunch of cold leftovers, I'll have to say, "no thanks."

Right. Well, I agree. Nothing like choking down that last piece of leftover chicken out of obligation (but you do have to do that now and then).

This overnight trip (noon Friday to noon Saturday) I filled my cooler with:
  • 4 water bottles
  • 3 diet coke bottles

  • 2 Larabars
  • 3 Attune probiotic white chocolate bars
  • 1 Envirokids crispy rice bar

  • 2 yogurt cups
  • 4 frozen Pamela's Lemon Shortbread cookies
  • 1 sliced tomato
  • 4 pcs. sliced mozzarella cheese and fresh basil leaves
  • 1 frozen Glutino plain bagel

  • Don't forget Ice Packs
That sounds like a lot, but it's just a few drinks, snacks and meal food.

So what did I eat?

On the 3 hour trip going, I drank one water and ate one Attune bar.

For dinner, I went out to eat, at the Full Moon Cafe in Manteo, NC. I had their nacho plate. The waitress checked and they use Utz corn chips, which only have corn, oil, and salt. (remember, some restaurants, especially if they make their own chips, have corn chips that are not gluten free). It was good, no reaction for me.

For after-concert snack back at the hotel, while unwinding with friends--I had the mozzarella, tomato, and basil. MMM.

For 2nd day's breakfast, I had hotel coffee, 2 hard boiled eggs from the hotel's continental breakfast, my rice bagel heated in my room's microwave (topped with cream cheese from the hotel).

For lunch the 2nd day, I lunched at Adrianna's Restaurant on the water in Manteo, NC. They didn't have too much to choose from, but I had a Kobe burger without bun, and a house salad. It was very filling, and tasted very good. On my receipt it said "GLUT ALLERGY", so whether or not they really know what to do, they at least have it in their computer that they should do something.


So was I completely isolated and did I hide in my hotel eating cheese and crackers out of my cooler? (Oh, cheese and crackers are good!).
--no! I was out and about, eating and asking questions.

Did I save money by not having to go out for breakfast and evening snack (2nd dinner)?

But this little bit of planning ahead helped fill in the cracks of snacks and incomplete meals (like hotel breakfast). I always had something I could eat, so I knew I wouldn't starve. I didn't eat everything I took, but I could have if I needed to. And I could mix-n-match my food with the food I found (like using the hotel cream cheese).

What came home with me in the cooler?
  • Yogurts
  • 2 Larabars
  • 1 Envirokids bar
  • 1 Attune bar
  • 3 Diet Cokes
  • 1 water
Had I been staying longer, I'd have done a little more to eat things frugally in my hotel room. But this was a short trip and I had a carpool friend (so eating out was the better choice for some meals).

Maybe you are wondering--How did I keep all that from spoiling?

---ICE PACKS! and the hotel had a fridge in my room.

Oh, no! you say. What if my hotel doesn't have a fridge? How can I be a happy celiac traveler then?

--Easy. Old traveling musician trick. Keep all items in cooler. Take along a couple gallon-size ziplock freezer bags. When you arrive at the hotel, take the bags to the ice machine, and fill up with ice. Voila-- you have instant ice packs. You can keep refilling them as long as you stay at the hotel.

Underground tip: Don't stress out. Pretty much you can take all kinds of stuff to eat on road trips. Just plan ahead and think of what you'll need beforehand.


Epilogue. The Pamela's Lemon Shortbread cookies. Did you notice they were unaccounted for? I don't know what happened, but they didn't make it home. Those cookies are missing in action. Where could they possibly have gone?? (read: my tummy says "mmm").


  1. Thanks for the ideas on packing a cooler. In August we hope to travel down to my parent's house in AL (Gulf Coast) so the tips will come in handy for me. BTW I'm in Fayetteville, NC.

  2. When we moved from L.A. to NC about a year ago, having a cooler in the car ensured that I didn't get accidentally glutened on our cross-country trip. Which is important, because we were driving about 600 miles a day, and I could never have done my share of the driving if I had gotten sick.

  3. Thanks for the comments, Jill and Allison.

    It's like, whatever is in that cooler is from you, and you can trust yourself. What a relief, that you don't have to wonder if it's going to really be gluten free or not!

    Happy Trails!

  4. Dear friend, my name is Sonia and I have a Spanish celiac granddaughter of six years.

    Since his diagnosis dedicate much of my time to spread the celiac level "nterna", not as to menus is concerned that there is already much in blogsfera if not celiacs areivindicar for collective security measures for their life coidiana .
    Waschiton The other day, I attended a conference of gastroenterologists in the U.S. there is a very high number of celiac patients ill, who do not know who they are, this is a serious problem in adults sometimes damage to the body and are forever .

    Trust in the group of celiac U.S., the association and I am working to get some medical protocols that quickly diagnose celiac disease.

    Thank you very much
    affectionate greetings

  5. I love this post! When we traveled from CA to NC I kept a little suitcase packed with snacks and a little cooler, it was a life saver. We plan on traveling with our Exchange Student over Christmas and I'm going to have to learn how to travel with teenager. This is going to be a challenge. Keep your ideas coming and it just might make it easier!